Form 2 not recognizing new trays!

Hello, well these printers are causing a lot of issues here GMU. The latest is that two separate printers with new tanks (< 2months old and used from 2 prints to 6 prints, NO damage to the window) are coming up with “missing tank” messages. Two separate printers, two new tanks, really, WTF!! I replaced one tank with a brand new tank and it is printing now, but I have NO faith that this will last. Anyone else run into this problem? The software is up to date. Thanks.

Contact Support. They’ll walk you through some suggestions, including inspecting (and possibly adjusting) the spring fingers.

If that goes nowhere… I had a recent problem where the heater cable , which also brings signals from the spring fingers (that contact the tank) to the motherboard, chaffed and some of the wires in it lost connectivity, resulting in a borked heater and intermittent contact with the tank. I’m going to do a post about it when I get the chance, but in the meantime if you’re handy with a multimeter you can test the cable by unplugging the heater plug from the motherboard and checking for continuity between the unplugged end and the spring fingers. On mine the connections were:

White = inner (leftmost) spring finger
Black = middle spring finger
Green = outer (rightmost) spring finger

If you’re not handy with electronics, don’t attempt this. Also if you do find a break, DON’T remove the tank carrier without knowing what you’re getting into (per Formlabs it may require factory recalibration if you do).

I have had a Form2 for a couple of years now and have had ‘missing tank’ messages intermittently which pretty much disables the printer.Removing/reinserting the tank several times usually works.During the pre-print process the ‘no tank’ warning will sometimes appear on the screen, it seems to be caused by the resin dispensing lever moving the tank slightly so the contact between the tank/printer is broken. I now lightly wedge a toothpick between the top left side of the tank and the printer body, this keeps it rigid and has solved the problem.I too have had ‘no tank’ messages with brand new tanks, this really is a weak link in the printing process (although there seem to be plenty of things that can go wrong!) This has happened and is annoying- load a print, hit the start button and go to work. When you come home and expect to see a 6 or 7 hour print waiting, instead it has stalled at 34.9 degrees and the screen say ‘no tank’ . Formlabs make a big deal of how slick and easy the printer is to use in their advertising, however the reality is quite different.

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Thanks Riverside, for both of your responses, I will be giving your suggestions a try today to see if that solves the problem. Honestly, the reliability of the Form2 has been sketchy at best, and we really don’t use them much in the lab here at GMU, so it’s not like they get beat on every day by the students! But it seems that out of our group of 4 of 5 printers, there is always half of them going down for one stupid problem or another. No. 5 is now a parts donor since Formlabs will not sell us parts to repair and, combined with the lack of reliability, I am most reluctant to spend $1800 to fix one only to have it go down 2 months later. Thanks.

I had that happen to me, I went ahead and cleaned the contact on the tray holder and it started working fine.

Back again! I may have just been lucky in the past, but today has been absolutely exasperating.I completed a print in Castable Wax without any problems, then loaded another job and the printer displayed the familiar ‘missing resin tank’ message. Took out the tank and wiped the contacts with IPA, and taped a cotton bud to a stick and wiped the contacts way down there in the back of the printer.No change. I cancelled the print, turned the printer off then back on and tried the print again, same result.Lifting the tank out displays a ‘missing resin tank’ message, reinserting comes up ‘cartridge inserted’ for 3 seconds or so then goes to ‘missing resin tank’ again, and so it goes on.
I turned the printer off then turned the power off for a couple of minutes, no change when trying to print.
I then changed over to Grey Pro tank and tray,loaded a job and away it went into the startup cycle.I cancelled that job then changed back to the Castable Wax tank and tray , loaded the original job and it started with no problems.
It seems to me to be more likely a software bug than tank/printer contacts, but whatever is the cause it seems to be a common problem that Formlabs are doing nothing about…
The tank/printer contact system seems really flimsy and cheap,a hard wired external connector would be a more positive contact system, if indeed the contacts are the real problem.
So about 2 hours wasted - just getting a print to start! Well done Formlabs.

The intermittent nature and the fact that a small nudge to the tank can solve it suggests to me it’s hardware (contacts or electrical). It sounds like you already made sure the spring fingers and your tank contacts are clean.

If the printer is idle and you slide the tank back and forth gently, do you get any “tank removed / inserted” messages?

If you have a multimeter you can use it to diagnose the connection between the spring finger and the end of your heater cable like I did in the first part of this post: Form 2 Heater Cable Repair.

I had an intermittent connection problem that often showed up when the tank moved, and in my case it was a bad cable.

Also be sure to contact Support if you haven’t already; they’ll probably give you a guide “Adjusting the Spring Fingers”.

A properly working printer does not have the problems you’re seeing.

Good advice, thank you.I will investigate the heater cable etc next weekend, I will ask an electrician friend to help me with it.
Also contact support.
I found your comment ‘a properly working printer does not have the problems you’re seeing’-quite amusing, on that basis I have never had a good one!

This printer is my 3rd Form 2, the first one was bought new and the laser diode failed within a week.It was replaced with a brand new printer, which also turned out to be a lemon, it had a range of issues but the main problem was stopping halfway or almost at the end of prints, which was probably one print in 3 resulting in an expensive collection of scrap plastic. I made the mistake of dealing with the local agent here in New Zealand who was not really very proactive and it took 6 months to sort the problem. In fact I packed the printer up and sent it back to him, suggesting they either fix it or refund my money ($7500 NZD)
Well I got it replaced but have always suspected that it was a refurbished machine not brand new.

I think if I was looking for a printer now it would not be a Form 3 either, a friend of mine bought one and returned it. I was getting better quality prints on my Form 2 than on the Form 3.(high resolution, fine detail) He is quite techy and assembled a lot of photos and info on the same files printed on both machines, Formlabs admitted that the Form 3 results he was getting were about as good as could be expected so refunded his money.

He now has a Phrozen 4k.

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If you are getting a cartridge missing error, try wrapping short strips of electrical tape around the plastic lip to the side perpendicular to the electrical contact. Build up several layers to raise the cartridge by a millimeter or so. This almost always fixes that problem for me and was recommended by support for the same issue on one of my Form 2’s. You can tell where the sweet spot is my lifting the cartridge slightly. If it doesn’t disconnect after lifting a few millimeters, a 1 mm gap is usually sufficient. If wiggling the cartridge causes a disconnect message, only 2-3 strips of tape should do the job.

In response to your posts, as well as the posts by other (microdev, etc.) here, the problem lies with the poor QC and design with Formlabs printers. At the university here, we have 5 printers and over the two years we have used them, we have had two bad lasers, a complete tank overflow, non-cartridge sensing floor replaced, blown motor lead screw, and numerous soft issues that were addressed by a software update. And in fact, a Monday software push resolved all of the tank reading error! Just as I had suspected, it wasn’t the leaf spring fingers, it was a software problem! And I knew that from the time I have spent keeping these printers running. The sad fact is that these are very well made printers, really quality in comparison with other, lower price open-source printers, and the resin is not some stinky mess like the UV LCD printers (Prusa, etc.) on the marker which make them unusable. If only Formlabs wasn’t so damn set on not allowing field repairs by users and instead charging an exorbitant fee for repair, taking the Apple business model to a new level of user-unfriendliness. At this point, with Form 2 printers having the reliability issues, my recommendation to the department is to shop around for something else, perhaps the Makerbot Method X when we get our next printers.

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